Comfortable with Uncertainty: Lessons from a Horse Named Charlie

I’m getting excited about our October Yoga Community Gathering happening on October 24! (Information and registration HERE.)  In thinking about being at the Firm Foundations Equine Therapy Ranch again, I remembered I wrote about my experience there back in 2019.  It's been a while, and now you might actually MEET Charlie the horse, so I thought I'd share it again for you here. 

 

It's really interesting to me to read this pre-pandemic post from a post-pandemic (or during pandemic) point of view.  Living with uncertainty is the norm now, and I recognize every day just how much I don't have control over.  Somehow I'm more ok with that as well.  See if you feel the same…

 

I have to tell you about this amazing experience I had last week.  I went out to Firm Foundations Equine Services in Wimberley, Texas.  Lindsey, the therapist there, had reached out to me to see if a collaboration might be something worth exploring. (Hint--yes it is!) My event curator, Angela, and I went out there to see and experience what they do.

 

Mind. Blown.

 

We played a little game called "horse handshake."  After a brief but informative explanation from Lindsey's partner, Elisa, of how horses communicate, we went and stood in the corral with the horse, Charlie, and attempted to get a "handshake." (We extend our hand in a fist, and if he sniffs our hand and accepts our communication, it's considered a handshake.)

 

Just standing in the corral trying to get a horse to engage with me took my mind into many creepy crevices of discomfort and uncertainty.  I COULD NOT MAKE HIM do anything he didn't want to do.  I could not rush him. I couldn't speak his language, I couldn't ask, force, or plead with him to play with me.  I stayed--but everything in me wanted to pick up my toys and leave in a huff. 

 

See, I LIKE to be where I understand the game, where I know the rules, and where I can easily foster communication and reach an intended goal. This was NOT that. It felt like chaos in my mind. I had no experience to stand on. All I could do was breathe and stare at him while my mind spun a web of uncertainty all around me.  "Why can't I make this work??"

 

So I just kept breathing.  And staring...  And it got better.

 

I loosened up my expectations of achieving the goal and just sat with what was.  It was a chilly, windy, sunny day and I was staring at a horse eating hay.  That's it.  The rest was in my mind. 

 

In Pema Chodron's book, Comfortable with Uncertainty, the first line of of the fourth teaching is,

 

"The central question of a warrior's training is not how we avoid uncertainty and fear, but how we relate to discomfort."

 

Well I found out I want to RUN AWAY! I want to seek security and a place where I know the rules and can play the game! Like most normal humans, I want to get away from doubt and fear.  

 

I know I could leave the corral anytime.  But that's not always the case.  Sometimes there's nowhere to run, no matter how hard we try. The only thing to do is stay and breathe and have compassion and patience. As Pema puts it, 

 

"We can bring ourselves back to the spiritual path countless times every day simply by exercising our willingness to rest in the uncertainty of the present moment--over and over again." 

 

May you learn to "relax in the midst of chaos," and "be cool when the ground beneath you suddenly disappears."

 

 

We have certainly done that.

 

Much love,

Jess

 

 

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